Human Scale

Human-Scale is an approach to understanding our world that uses the human as a unit of scale. How many humans make the ideal community, a functioning country or an ideal school?  In terms of use for institutions or design, it deals with the belief that there is a proper scale that defines its limits by the well-being of both the person and the planet and the ability of the person to seek wholeness. It can be seen today in the call for architecture, economics, politics and schools that are created as if people matter. It is an organisational principle that understands there is a balanced relationship between the needs and wants of the personal and the communal. Therefore community institutions at a human scale should be created with the person at their centre. At Park School, we have three fundamental questions that we ask of the children; are you looking after yourself, are you looking after others and are you looking after your environment? If they are doing these things then we often don’t need too many other rules. These three principles address the inter relationship between the personal and the communal.

We can allow children to make wise decisions as to how best be in their school within the parameters set by these guidelines. And it is because we are a school at a human scale that it is possible to put children first and allow them this level of freedom and trust.

If the wellbeing of children does come first then we have always felt that we need to be at a size that facilitates the best of the human scale philosophy. Although there has never been an accepted magic number that creates the ideal size for a teaching community, many educators agree that our present Primary Schools are far too big.  At Park School, we have the privilege to investigate the potential of truly small schools and attempt to keep our numbers below seventy five across the three to eleven age range. Still large enough for healthy social groups but small enough to ensure every child's talents can be developed and ensure that all, adult and child can be heard and contribute to the functioning of the school.

How will you see the human scale manifested in the day to day running of the school? Children communicate well and learn to argue and resolve their disputes with kindness. They talk about the way they want things to be, talk to adults as friends and talk to all ages as if they are equals. They talk a lot. Adults are able to teach to each child's strength and help them face the challenge of their weaknesses without comparison to others and to national norms. The classrooms are relaxed and informal and you are as likely to see children playing with Lego as sitting in front of a Smart board. They play a lot; they run around bare footed: they laugh and smile often. And guess what, they learn a lot and complain that it is the end of the day!

Human Scale can mean small, but more than anything it means respect. Respect for children as humans with needs as important as adults and the right that their school environment and experience should be tailored to them and not them tailored to an educational outcome. Teachers are also respected in this process. Their creativity allowed free rein and their needs as professionals understood. A school co-managed by all for the benefit of all. An educational village with children in mind.